ARLINGTON, Texas — Day one of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Championship tournament was a doozy. All three of the league’s regular season co-champions suffered defeats to the three lowest-seeded teams in the tournament field.
Top-seeded Texas lost 6-3 to No. 8 seed Kansas. No. 2 seed Oklahoma State fell 9-5 in a Bedlam rematch to seventh-seeded Oklahoma; the Sooners led by as many as seven runs early on. The tournament’s first day ended with sixth-seeded Texas Tech silencing No. 3 seed West Virginia by a final score of 6-2.
Seeds 6, 7, and 8 are all in the winners’ bracket. Seeds 1, 2, and 3 are all in the losers’ bracket.
Add it to the growing list of examples of how deep the conference is in nearly every sport, and how treacherous it is to have the proverbial target on your back.
“That’s the tell-tale sign that you got a good league if the three co-champs all lose the first game, and the lower seeds win the first game,” said WVU head coach Randy Mazey after midnight, following his team’s loss to Texas Tech. “The lower seeds aren’t lower seeds because their teams aren’t better.”
Oh, how true that is.
The Red Raiders entered the postseason with the most potent and explosive lineup in the conference. Oklahoma is still just one season removed from a trip to Omaha. Kansas finished the season five games below .500, and still managed to hold the Longhorns to just three runs Wednesday afternoon.
As the eight teams converged in Arlington, the tournament appeared wide open. Just one day into the postseason, and the three best teams are all one game away from being eliminated.
“Any team can go 2-0 in this tournament. Any team can go 0-2 every single year. That’s a fact,” Mazey added. “You just got to hope you play well enough to be one of the ones that go 2-0.”
West Virginia will square off against Oklahoma State Thursday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. ET in an elimination game, meaning at least one of the regular season co-champions will go home after the final out is recorded. Texas will take on Kansas State in the first elimination game of the day, beginning at 10 a.m. ET. The Wildcats were blasted by fourth-seeded TCU Wednesday morning.
WVU’s loss to Texas Tech Wednesday night was the team’s fourth-straight defeat. The Mountaineers will now try to avoid a second consecutive 0-2 showing in Arlington.
Texas Tech will take on Oklahoma Thursday night. Kansas will face TCU in the other winners’ bracket contest.